Today was the first Sunday in CHBOLC that I went to Chapel services. I say “services” because I went to three different ones. One of our requirements for CHBOLC is to attend one of every kind of service available on Ft. Jackson. I will give you a brief overview of what I thought of each service.
1. Episcopalian/Lutheran: This was only my second experience with a liturgical service. My first one was during AIT when a friend and I accidentally went to an Episcopalian service thinking it was a Protestant service more in line with what we were used to. I discovered that my thoughts on the overall service hadn’t changed much in the years since I last attended one. I have never been huge on responsive readings. I don’t think there is anything wrong with them in practice, but I just have a hard time focusing on God when nearly the entire service is made up of responsive readings. One or two would be good, but not the whole service. I also did not take communion, though I did go forward during communion and was given a blessing by the Chaplain. My feelings about communion are that it is most meaningful when practiced in a corporate (local) body of like-minded believers. I know from my studies that the Lutheran view of the Lord’s Supper and what it accomplishes is not the same as my own. I did, however, appreciate the reverence with which the Lord’s Supper was conducted, something some from my denomination would do well to learn to follow.
2. Jewish Service: This was a first for me. I was not at all sure what to expect when I went into this service. The Rabbi was an elderly civilian who is a retired Chaplain. Judging from the crowd, it looked like there were perhaps 6-12 Jews out of the group of 40 or so. The rest of the crowd was either soldiers in training wanting to get away from the barracks for awhile, or CHBOLC students there to observe. The Rabbi spent much of the service explaining bits and pieces of certain Jewish customs and rituals as well as leading in the reading of Torah and the partaking of the Passover. I participated in the reading of the Torah because I consider it to be a part of my Bible and also consider the Yahweh of the Old Testament to be the same God as the one in the New Testament. I chose not to participate in the Passover part of the service because it bears too much similarity to a communion service and in that environment it felt like I would have been affirming a Jewish practice that I believe was pointing towards Christ. Overall, it was a good experience and I’m glad I had the opportunity to see how people of the Jewish faith worship.
3. Chapel Next: This service was the most like what I attend at home. It was a bit more casual in terms of dress than I am used to, but the way the service was conducted closely mirrors the kind of service I would attend at home. At this service, the worship was contemporary and a band was used to play the songs. I enjoy modern worship songs with solid theology because of the ease that I can commit the words to memory. It is much easier to worship when I can focus my attention on the meaning of the words and on God. This was the service I definitely felt the most free to worship in. We sang one of my favorite songs, “In Christ Alone.” The sermon was also very well done. It was about the difficult passage in Judges about the story of Jephtha. The Chaplain did a great job with the passage and with exegeting it in a way that remained true to the text and was relevant to the congregation. I believe that this is the service that I will be going to regularly during my time here at CHBOLC.
Now, for those of you who believe that the pluralism of the military environment prevents a Chaplain from being vocal about his/her faith and belief in Jesus Christ, I have something to share with you. There is a popular belief that Chaplains are muzzled or cannot pray in the name of Jesus, that is simply not true. As an example of this and of the evangelistic nature of the Chapel Next service I attended, I will share the bulletin from today’s service.
For those who are wondering, a Chaplain has to be sensitive to the religious beliefs of others when in an environment (i.e. a change of command ceremony) where attendance is mandatory. In that scenario, a Chaplain would probably not pray in Jesus name. However, in situation such as a Chapel service, where attendance is voluntary, a Chaplain can pray however he/she chooses. I am sure I will have more to say on this when we take the classes later on this summer and I learn more about the actual Army regs…so stay tuned!
Here are some scans of that bulletin. What do you think?